The War of the Robots (1978)

War of the Robots

Written and Directed by Alfonso Brescia

Run Time: 99 minutes

Tagline: Hostile Alien Cyborgs in a Battle for the Universe

War of the Robots is another of my guilty pleasures created by one of my favorit Italian Gods of Schlock: Alfonso Brescia (aka, Al Bradly, director of Supermen vs the Amazons (1975), Cosmos: War of the Planets (1977), War in Space (1977), and so on…I think you get the picture. In a lovely bit of bad-movie irony, Brescia also directed Iron Warrior (1987), the last of the God-awful Miles O’Keeffe "Ator" films including Ator, the Fighting Eagle and Cave Dwellers, which was deservedly destroyed by MST3K.)

 

Antonio Sabato Captain John Boyd (Antonio Sabato)

Captain Boyd races against time to find his captured girlfriend and the Professor before a nuclear reactor explodes. Along the way he fights golden robots, wrinkly old aliens, and a bad script. Who will emerge victorious? Read on and find out.

Malisa Longo Lois/Empress (Malisa Longo)

Power hungry Lois sells out her planet to the cruel Anthorians in exchange for being their Empress. Then she changes her mind. Then she changes it back again. Then she dies. I think. This movie is really confusing, so cut me some slack, ok?

Yanti Somer Julie (Yanti Somer)

Julie, also called “Julia” when the other actors haven’t rehearsed and forget her name, is the short-leg of a love triangle between herself, Captian Boyd, and Lois. I wonder if she’ll manage to get her man…

Jacques Herlin Professor Carr (Jacques Herlin)

Professor Carr has just discovered the secret to “artificial immortal life.”…those are his words, not mine. So what’s the first thing he does? He sells the secret to a bunch of sterile aliens in exchange for…oh, hell. I never could figure that one out. Anyway, first he’s a good guy, then he decides to be a bad guy, then somebody turns him into a dead guy.

Aldo Canti Kuba the Alien (Aldo Canti)

Played by the ever jubilant Aldo Canti (you can read more about Aldo in the Supermen vs the Amazons review), Kuba struggles to free his oppressed people from their Anthorian overlords. Well, actually he doesn’t try too hard after being rescued by Boyd and seeing how cute Julie is. But he does blow up a lot of…stuff, and shoot a bunch of Gold Men, so I guess that counts for something.

Frank Siedlitz Herb (Frank Siedlitz)

Second in command Herb, from Texas (yeah…right!), is always hanging around the bridge flirting with the ladies while Captian Boyd is out risking his neck. Actually, that doesn’t sound like too bad of an idea. Anyway, when not flirting in his atrociously fake Texas accent, Herb keeps busy by continuously beging captured and getting the crap kicked out of him by robots.

Gold Man Gold Man

One of the dreaded Anthorian golden robots, refered to as “Gold Men” and occasionally “Golden Boys”, depending on whether the actors remembered their lines or not. These robots aren’t really too much good at anything except for being shot down en masse and stomping around in their golden boots with matching jackets and wigs.

Opening titles and "spacey" stuff with cool music by the prolific electronic-music composer Italian Marcello Giombini. (The music of Marcello Giombini, occasionally credited as "Pluto Kennedy"(!), has graced a multitude of cheap Italian sci-fi flicks and is actually a pretty cool, sometimes haunting, moody mix of Kraftwerk-esque synthesizer loops.)

As the credits come to a close, we cut to Space Control where we learn that a spaceship in "Sector H" has broken down. (Anybody who’s seen Al Bradly’s Cosmos: War of the Planets will immediately recognize the exact same sets, uniforms, and establishing shots unimaginatively, although economically, re-used in both films.) A security team is dispatched to "reactivate" the ship since it’s a crucial link in the worldwide space defense system. (Yes, a worldwide space defense system with no redundancy built into it whatsoever.)

Control Room

The Future!

Cut to Professor Carr’s lab where his assistant, Lois, is smooching with spaceship captain John Boyd. After some perfunctory character introductions, Lois and Boyd make a date for the next night. After Boyd takes his leave, Louis returns to her work with Carr while, unbeknownst to either of them, a group of gold-haired, gold-lamé clad aliens has invaded the installation and are making their way to the lab.

Meanwhile, Carr explains to Louis that he’s on the verge of creating an "immortal man." If that wasn’t enough, he brags that he can "grow a forest where there was only…desert." (Ooookay. If you say so.) Before he can continue with his grandiose claims, the creepy golden aliens storm in, take Carr and Lois prisoner, and whisk them off into outer space. (Say what you want about this movie, but you sure can’t fault it for a slow start…)

Gold Men

Gold Men, attack!

Back at space command, Commander King explains to Boyd that Professor Carr was on the verge of discovering the secret to "the creation of life". Unfortunately, these experiments took place in Carr’s personal atomic reactor (which, to put it mildly, hardly seems like the place to create life). To make matters worse, the reactor is in danger of a city-destroying meltdown. Since Professor Carr is the only person who knows how to shut down the reactor, Commander King tasks our hero, Captain Boyd, with returning Professor Carr and Lois safely back to Earth…pronto!

Control RoomCool helmetSpace Walk

Space Walk!

With the crew safely ensconced at their respective control panels, the Trissy takes off to retrieve Lois and Professor Carr. Before plunging out into interstellar space, Boyd first stops the ship beside a tracking satellite so he can space-walk out and retrieve information on the alien ship’s speed and direction. After "making contact with the memory bank of the main computer", Boyd returns to the ship and the radios Space Control with the information. (Couldn’t this information have just been downloaded to Space Control instead of requiring the ship’s captain to perform a dangerous space walk?)

"The coordinates are North Pole Earth, ninety degrees West and eight-ten North."

(I’m not too sure what "North" means when you’re in outer space, but let’s cut this movie some slack.)

After some discussion, Boyd calculates that the Trissy can overtake the alien space ships in 4 days time. Space Control gives the green light and Boyd sets off on the mission at 600,000 meters per second, which if you’ve done your homework, is 20% of the speed of light. (Sorry for geeking out a little bit there.)

WigsWigs

Have wig, will travel

Well, with nothing to do but kill time as they gain on the aliens, Boyd and Julie find time to drink a few space martinis and shoot the shit. Their cozy tête-à-tête is rudely interrupted when "enemy spaceships" appear and attack. "Get the facts from the computer!" Boyd bellows. (I guess the computer would have to report the facts since Boyd was so busy gulping martinis instead of being on the bridge.)

Space martinis

Dealing with the stress of space travel

"Confirmed! Those are two alien spaceships!", says Commander King (Uh, you think? I mean, if they aren’t from Earth, by definition they must be "alien", right? And weren’t there 3 ship?)

"Professor Carr and Lois are undoubtedly on ship number three!" Boyd amazingly deduces.

"Range one-oh-eight-two," the ships targeting computer drones. (1082…what?! Miles? Kilometers? Planck lengths?)

After a brief exchange of hokey laser blasts, 2 of the 3 alien ships are disintegrated, but the Trissy has also received damage to her "reactor water tank" causing her to drift to the "West"…(again, you’re in outer space…West of what?)

Whatever. The auxiliary drives are engaged, but the 3rd alien ship, presumably carrying Lois and Carr, has gotten away and landed on the alien asteroid. (The "asteroid" is also occasionally referred to as a "planet" depending on who’s speaking and how well they remember their lines.)

"We’ll never catch the aliens like this," Boyd complains upon hearing that the asteroid is 200,000 kilometers away.

But wait a minute. Didn’t they just have the Trissy flying along at 500,000 meters per second at just 30% power? At that rate they would reach the planet in a little over 6 minutes…but, oh, never mind.

Back on Earth, Commander King is dismayed to hear that they’ve lost contact with Boyd. "It’s the beginning of the end!" Commander King groans. (Way to keep a stiff upper lip, Commander, unless you’re referring to Bert I. Gordon’s giant grasshopper epic Beginning of the End, in which case there is very good reason to groan.)

Asteroid

Approaching the ‘asteroid’, uh, planet.

Meanwhile, the good ship Trissy approaches the "asteroid" (as shown by a model ship flying towards a picture of a giant planet and moon) and goes into orbit as the crew capsule disengages from the main ship and descends to the planet’s surface. (Asteroid’s surface. Sorry. Whatever.) After a quick check for radioactivity (shouldn’t they have checked that before landing?) Boyd assembles an away team and they head out into the darkness to look around for Carr and Lois. (A quick analysis of the atmosphere reveals that it’s "Earthlike" so they don’t need to wear spacesuits…what are the odds?)

After some very, very exciting minutes watching Boyd stroll around in the dark, he and the others are suddenly ambushed by some weird, bug-eyed monk-like dudes. After a quick but pointless struggle, the humans are quickly overpowered and dragged down into some tunnels where they are brought before the alien leader, Kuba. Oh, and thanks to Boyd’s wrist held"electronic translator", everybody speaks English. Ahhh, yes. The ever-helpful electronic translator. What would crappy science-fiction movies ever do without those, eh?

Bad eyes

Gross bug-eyed alien guy

(Beer break)

Let’s see where was I…Ok, Kuba accuses Boyd of being from "Anthor". (I have to assume Kuba and his people are at war with "Anthor" since he doesn’t seem particularly pleased with Boyd’s presence…just a part of the plot that would have been nice for the viewer to know about…but anyway…) Despite Boyd’s saying to the contrary, Kuba decides to kill them, when, all of a sudden and Just In Time, he and the other aliens suddenly drop to the floor and start writhing in pain. Confused, but realizing this is their chance to get away, Boyd and his crew duck behind some handy rock piles and wait to see what happens next.

Kuba

Chilling with Kuba

Ah ha! In come the Gold Men. (OK, are these the guys from Anthor?…Could Kuba really mistake Boyd for one of them? I mean, they’re gold for cripes sake!) After making sure the aliens are helpless, the Gold Men turn off the paralyzing device and scoop them up to be taken back to Anthor.

"It’s crazy," Boyd gasps from hiding, "It’s like a harvest of human flesh!"

(Not to be picky, but they’re aliens, so maybe not human flesh, but I get the point.)

In a rather unproffesional fit of impulsiveness, Boyd suddenly shouts, "Let’s teach these Gold Men a lesson!" as he and the others jump out from behind the rocks and wildly open fire. (By the way Boyd, you’ve now given away your position and involved yourself in a conflict that you have no idea about! Way to keep to your rescue mission, Captain.)

After shooting a gazillion Gold Men, Boyd frees Kuba and the other bug-eyed aliens. As Kuba’s handcuffs are removed ("I’ll keep one for a souvenir," Boyd chuckles in rather bad taste), Kuba explains how he and the others are "basically humanoid" except for a thick protective layer over their eyes to protect them from the planet’s radiation. (Um…didn’t Boyd say that the planet was radiation free? Well, it’s not like that is the movie’s biggest plot hole, so let’s just move along.)

Zap!Dead Gold Men

Zap! Zing! Zow!

Kuba continues his woeful story by saying that the Anthorian slave masters surgically removed his eye coverings because of the need for workers with normal vision. (Not to mention that the actor playing Kuba wouldn’t be able to see through the rubber "eyes" glued onto his face…) As Boyd gives a sympathetic nod, Kuba explains that the Anthorians have gone sterile and now harvest organs from their hapless captives. (I’m not sure what organ donation has to do with sterility, but whatever.)

Boyd has a light-bulb moment and shouts, "That’s why they’ve kidnapped Carr and Lois! The Professor has discovered the secret of creating artificial life!" (Is life artificial after it’s created? Just asking.) Anyway, Kuba offers to lead Boyd to the Anthorian Royal Palace where he once worked as a slave. Sooo…Kuba dons a uniform (that fits him perfectly, no less) and climbs aboard the Trissy for the journey to the planet Anthor.

After some of the same flying-through-space footage, the Trissy lands on Anthor, where Boyd discovers that, surprise, surprise, the planet has an atmosphere similar to Earth. (sigh) Kuba quickly takes charge and leads the crew into some tunnels which lead "directly under the Central Palace."

(Man, I really hate that kind of crap. Doesn’t anybody think that maybe, just maybe, having tunnels leading directly under their fortress would be a security risk?)

"It seems incredible that these tunnels are unguarded," Boyd muses. (Boy, you know you’re watching a bad movie when even the film’s hero starts pointing out plot holes.)

Giant robot

The Universe’s largest slot machine

At the journey’s end, Boyd enters a large room and is stunned to see a gigantic computer (that looks like a giant slot machine, I must say). (Note: If you’ve had the pleasure to see "Cosmos: War of the Planets", you’ll certainly recognize this computer…) To everyone’s further dismay and confusion (mine too), they can’t help but notice that Professor Carr is happily at work at one of the many keyboards. What a traitor! Oh, the humanity! Professor Carr quickly summons some Gold Men who immediately set to work attacking Boyd with light sabers!

Carr working

Carr hard at work

After a lot of goofy fighting, Boyd is forced to surrender when Carr reveals that he’s captured Herb and the Wigged Girls. (Way to go, Herb, way to go. How in the hell did that happen, Herb? Did they knock on the ship’s airlock asking for a cup of sugar? Good grief, what a moron.)

Captured

Captured by golden pretty boys…how embarrassing

The captives are then brought before a bunch of crusty, robed priests and forced to bow to a very human-looking Empress. Wait a minute…To my huge non-surprise, she removes her veil and reveals that she’s…wait for it…Lois! Damn, Boyd. That’s gotta hurt.

badskin

Talk about unfortunate skin

Moving right along, Lois condemns the crew to serve as "guinea pigs" in the Professor’s continuing "immortal life" experiments…whatever the hell that means.

The Empress

Empress Lois

Time for some back story if you’re still awake. Lois and Carr indulge in a bit of exposition. You know the kind where the characters tell each other what they already know for the viewer’s benefit. (Sort of like my movie reviews, ha ha.)

For example:

"Don’t forget, I agreed to become Empress only to save your life and mine."

"Yes, but it was I that persuaded them to accept you when the old Empress died!"

"Yes, but I agreed only because I knew that Earth would send somebody to find us."

Ack. Now that’s some inspired dialog.

In a bid to free her friends (then why did she have them captured in the first place?!), Lois offers to have sex with Carr if he’ll release them. (YUCH!) Carr gleefully accepts Lois’s offer. (Again…YUCH!)

After the deed is done (off-camera, thankfully), Lois strolls to the holding cell where Boyd and the others are tied up to some posts with a metal straps. Lois manages to sneak a "very powerful disintegrator" into Julie’s hand and whispers that she must kill the guards. Well, duh? You think? After disintegrating the guards and freeing the captives, Lois begins smooching on Boyd, but Professor Carr spots her duplicity on a surveillance camera, gets pissed off, and sounds the alarm in a fit of pique.

Anyway, Boyd helps Lois drug Carr so they can take him back to Earth. Heading back to the ship through a warren of tunnels, our friends are met be a seemingly endless stream of Gold Men who helpfully line up so they can be mowed down in a scene that lasts far, far too long. Oh, gee. And the Gold Men are actually robots. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

Gold ManGold Man

Beware the Gold Men!

Laser fight!Laser fight!

Can’t we all just get along?

After Boyd and the others get back inside the Trissy, the remaining legions of Gold Men surround the ship and open fire with their laser guns.

"Here come the Golden Boys!" Herb shouts. ("Golden Boys"? I think Herb’s been out in space too long.)

During a needlessly long take-off sequence the robots manage to damage the ship’s computer. (By shooting the ship’s hull? Nice design.) "One of the secondary computer’s circuits is damaged in the primary section," Julie reports. (Huh? Wouldn’t that be a primary computer? Oh, the primary section of the secondary computer, kind of like the secondary section of the primary computer. Yes. That makes sense.)

With the launch computer damaged, Boyd asks Julia for advice. "Use the manual button," she suggests.

Ah, yes. The manual button. I guess that would be a different manual button than the buttons they were madly manually pressing just a second ago. Anyway, tada! the rocket lifts off and the scene sputters to a close.

Boyd and Empress

Back with my baby!

On the way back to Earth, Paul administers a seditive to Professor Carr and notes that "he’ll be back to normal when he wakes up." (Oh good. He’ll be back to being a greedy, treacherous lout. Good job, Paul.)

Meanwhile, Boyd radios a frantic Commander King and informs him of the latest events. When the video link with Space Control is established, Commander King sees Kuba sitting at the ship’s controls and mistakes him for a new android. (Huh?)

"Kuba isn’t an android, he’s a humanoid…and he’s here to help us!" says Boyd. Wow, that’s some pretty tough job requirements they have on the Trissy.

Kuba

Kuba: Just one of the guys

King informs Boyd that every attempt to "un-prime" Carr’s deadly reactor has failed and that the city (planet?) will be destroyed when the reactor blows up in 3 hours. "The only person that can solve the problem is Professor Carr!" (Yes, we know that already!) Unfortunately, as you remember, Paul has previously sedated Carr. (Doh!) Boyd urgently orders Paul to revive the doctor so they can get the disarming codes from him before it’s bum! bum! bum!…Too Late.

Down in the sick bay, Carr comes around but pretends to be too sedated to remember the codes. Helpfully, Carr tells Paul that the only way to fully revive him is to use a handy device he Just Happens to have in his pocket. Digging deep into his robes, Carr produces a shiny metal box with a red button on it. (I’m NOT kidding!) Giving the box to Paul, Carr tells him to push "the red button."

Being a TOTAL IDIOT, Paul presses the button and is immediately electrocuted..

Oh dear, Paul. Seriously. What were you thinking?

After killing Paul, Carr hops off the gurney as an unseen third person enters the sick bay via a POV shot…oh..who could it be? Well, whoever the hell it is, and do you really care at this point?, zaps Professor Carr, so, well, so much for the disarming codes. Boyd and Kuba enter the room a moment later and are shocked at the carnage. Even worse for them, a little gadget on Boyd’s belt begins to glow. "It does that when Gold Men are near," he explains to Kuba. (Uh, sure it does, Boyd, sure it does.) Sensing danger, our heroes make their way back up to the control room. (Kuba cleverly ducks off into a side corridor because…I don’t know. I really, really, just don’t know anymore.)

Betrayed!

Betrayed!

Upon returning to the ship’s bridge, Boyd is shocked to see Lois surrounded by Gold Men. And frankly, so am I. What is the motivation here? Why has Lois changed her mind again? To become Empress? She is the Empress! Man, I hate this crap.

"What’s the meaning of all this," Boyd asks.

"I thought it would be obvious," says Lois.

"Only up to a point," says Boyd.

(Up to a point?!! What the hell is going on here? Is anything obvious here? I don’t think anybody could ever say that The War of the Robots is "obvious"!)

"We’re at the head of a large fleet of android spaceships," Lois explains. (And Space Command hasn’t noticed them? Way to go, guys.) If Boyd agrees to lead the enemy ships through Earth’s (cough) "satellite defense system", he can share in the spoils of war after the Earth is destroyed.

Boyd pretends to mull it over for a second or two before going totally psycho and shouting at the top of his lungs "Get ’em, you guys!" So, yes, another slug-fest with the Gold Men. And boy, is this a great movie. Unbeknownst to Lois and the other bad guys, Kuba is sneaking around the ship zapping the occasional lone Gold Man and making his way to the bridge for a sneak attack. (I love the fact that the foley team has suddenly forgotten to add the "zap" noises to Kuba’s laser gun…hilarious.)

Ok, after a long crazy fist fight, Boyd and the others manage to overwhelm Lois and the Gold Men. Huzzah! Once communication with Space Control is reestablished, Boyd tells Commander King the bad news of Carr’s demise, and well, they better start evacuating the city after all since there’s no way to stop the reactor from blowing up.

What?! There’s 25 freakin’ minutes left in this movie? I’m running out of patience…man, can those Italians pad out a film or what.

Bullet Time:

  • Commander King relates to Boyd that Professor Carr kept his research notes on memory slides because he was so forgetful. (Ho ho…I love characterization.) If only they could find them…
  • Lois, after being knocked out in the previous melee, regains consciousness, dons a space suit, and jumps out of an airlock into space so that a Crusty Alien Guy can pick her up. (Risky maneuver, that. Plus, I couldn’t help notice that Lois’s hands were protected by cloth gardening gloves!)

FXFX

George Lucas, eat your heart out!

  • Kuba just happened to take along one of the previously mentioned "memory slides" (sounds like a drink containing a lot of tequila…). Wow! And it’s the one with the codes to disarm the nuclear reactor. Well, wasn’t that convenient.
  • Boyd, Jack and Roger fly out in space fighters to counter the Anthorian fleet. "We’ll make a frontal attack..I’ll cover your rear," Boyd informs Roger, which to me is the same as saying "Roger, you’ll make a frontal attack…I’ll hang back and see what happens."

JackBoydRoger

Jack, Boyd, and Roger: Earth’s last hope

  • Cue incredibly confusing space battle consisting of the same shots over and over and over while everybody yells "Yeah! I got him!".
  • "I’m fed up, I haven’t hit one of them yet," Kuba bitches after missing yet another ship from the Trissy‘s bridge ."It’s better to fire in front of moving objects," Boyd coaches him. (So you have to lead the alien ships when shooting at them with a laser?!)
  • "Some more saucers are arriving, try to get back!"…They still refer to spaceships as saucers? (Even though they look like coffee cups.)
  • Jack and Roger get zapped. No, wait. Roger is still alive. What the hell is going on here?! Who edited this thing?
  • Julie flies out and saves Boyd’s life. Ah. That was sweet.
  • Herb suggests firing "torpedoes" at the enemy fleet: "They have hundreds of energy grenades that explode simultaneously." Gee, thanks for mentioning that NOW…
  • I’ve totally forgotten the point behind this space battle. Weren’t they supposed to be disarming a reactor that was going to blow up the Earth or something?
  • Boyd destroys Lois, the woman who loves him because she refuses to surrender. "To hell with Lois!" Boyd shouts as he blasts her to atoms.
  • Kuba manages to wipe out the entire Anthorian fleet by pushing 2 buttons which launch the aforementioned "space torpedoes".
  • "When I think of all that’s happened, it makes life fantastic," Boyd remarks after just disintegrating his girlfriend.

Earth is saved!

The movie’s over! Huzzah!

Cut to closing credits.

Whoa! What a minute? What about the reactor?!! What the hell’s going on here?!

Dennis Grisbeck (August 2010)

Afterthoughts

What can be said about this movie…hmmm. There is tons of action, even if it tends to drag on a bit too much from time to time as in the tedious final 10 minute space dogfight and the repetative shoot-em-ups with the Gold Men. But, heck, I guess I can’t complain when I think of some of the other boring movies that I’ve forced myself to watch for this site.

All in all, War of the Robots is pretty much just another wacky Italian sci-fi movie complete with a few obligatory ripped-off Star Wars elements. (Although not nearly as blatant a ripoff as Star Crash…Although Star Crash does have the beautiful Caroline Munro in its favor!)

It was amusing to see Antonio Sabato play a serious role as Captian John Boyd after having only seen him play the goofy resistance leader “Dablone” in the disgraceful 1983 film Escape from the Bronx. He actually did a decent job given the uninspired script he was forced to work with.

Read more about The War of the Robots at

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Wow! You made it to the end of the review…here is your reward!

6 comments to The War of the Robots (1978)

  • Wow, I often read these reviews, and say, you know, I’ve just GOT to see that movie!

    Not so with this one. I’ve never seen it, and I’m convinced that I’m not sure I could watch it any more than I could watch “Assignment: Outer Space” — I managed to get through five minutes of it last night before bailing for some lurid movie called “The Thirst.”

    Really enjoyed the review, and am grateful I know enough to avoid this one completely!

  • Well, Randy, I agree with you…there’s really not any reason to justify watching this movie in its entirety unless you’re really into cheesy flix or else some sort of Alfonso Brescia completist.

  • guts3d

    …Kuba just happened to take along one of the previously mentioned “memory slides” (sounds like a drink containing a lot of tequila…). Wow! And it’s the one with the codes to disarm the nuclear reactor. Well, wasn’t that convenient.

    So bad! And they never even use the %$#@! codes! They never shut down the reactor, which started everything in the first place! You are a stronger man than I, Dennis!

  • “…You are a stronger man than I, Dennis!…”, hmmm, maybe just more patient 🙂

    Yeah, I guess the whole thing with the reactor blowing up, not to mention the fact that Kuba’s people are still slaves back on Anthor isn’t really important now that Boyd and Julie are boyfriend/girlfriend now. Pytt, pytt, as we say…

    The ending felt like they literally ran out of money and just had to roll credits right in the middle of the film’s, er, resolution.

  • guts3d

    That would explain quite a bit.

  • I’ve seen several movies where that appears to be the case.

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